HELPING HANDS is an arts and crafts program organized by the Miami-Dade Public Library System’s Country Walk Branch. It meets the needs of two communities — older adults and homeless populations — at the same time. Older adult participants socialize at the library while they crochet sleeping mats from upcycled plastic bags. The mats are then given to nearby homeless populations. Country Walk Branch Library is a very busy, tiny, storefront branch centered in the middle of a diverse set of businesses in a strip shopping center at a heavily trafficked intersection. This program has multiple goals: to upcycle plastic to keep it from landfills; to mitigate the loneliness often experienced by seniors; and to teach a population that they are valued through interactions with an easy, yet meaningful, craft.
The simple activity helps to link neighborhoods that typically have little connection and lift the spirits of an underserved population through arts and crafts.